WASHINGTON - Yesterday’s blizzard-like storm crippled travel across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and left hundreds of thousands of customers without power.
Five deaths appeared to have been caused by the storm, which extended from the Carolinas to New England and also spread into some Midwestern states. The 14 inches of snow that fell at Reagan National Airport outside Washington was the most ever recorded for a single December day, while about 9 inches fell in Philadelphia.
Those who ventured out found stores nearly empty on what is usually one of the year’s busiest shopping days.
More than 2 feet of snow fell in some areas since Friday, and forecasters expected the storm to drop up to 10 inches on New York City.
One person in Virginia was killed in a traffic accident caused by slick roads, and authorities said the weather apparently contributed to another traffic death. A third death in Virginia was believed to have been caused by exposure. In Ohio, two people were killed in accidents on snow-covered roads.
Troopers responded to more than 4,000 traffic crashes and disabled vehicles in Virginia. The National Guard used Humvees to rescue stranded motorists there, and about 500 people sought refuge in shelters.
Public transportation in Washington nearly ground to a halt, but it wasn’t enough to keep senators from staying in session to debate health care.
Snowplows cleared the runway at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland as President Obama returned from Copenhagen. Obama rode in a motorcade back to the White House, instead of taking his helicopter.
In western Virginia, officials said several hundred motorists became stranded and had to be rescued.